California Schools Focus on Transcendental Meditation as the Answer to Reducing Stress for Students

Everybody…just chill. Chill out. Relax. Open your mind and be cool. Sit down on the inside. Use transcendental meditation. It’s good for you.

Anyone who has ever taught in the classroom knows what it’s like to take control of 30 to 40 elementary students who seem to be juiced out on coffee and endless energy. I taught in California’s public schools (grades 4 – 6) for just over ten years.

The day-to-day problems in teaching often involved student issues that were usually related to their attitudes. As a teacher, you wanted to inspire, befriend (to a degree) and certainly educate. But when students came to school with seriously bad attitudes, it was difficult to do any of that. When you had 39 other students in your class, it didn’t take long for that one student’s crappy attitude to infect others.

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I’m not a fan of automatically putting kids on drugs to help them with their behavior, but in some cases, it really was necessary. Of course, let’s not talk about the fact that the big pharmacueticals pushed that stuff like candy via doctors. I remember one kid who was literally (and I do mean literally) like a demonic entity when he did not have his medication. It was absolutely unreal.

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Without it, the evil that emanated from him seemed surrealistic. It was in his eyes. He was a 6th grader who would just stare at you with this unearthly smile on his face. He might flip you off and on a few occasions, he even suggested that I do something to myself that is sexual in nature and impossible. But, when he did take his Ritalin, he was a completely different kid! He was polite, nearly angelic in demeanor. You could also see when it started wearing off. It really was weird.

Again though, I’m not saying that drugs should be the automatic answer, but just as we go to the doctor when we are sick, the brain can falter and fall down on the job. In those cases, maybe drugs in a very controlled fashion (along with some good Christian counseling and prayer!) can make the difference.

I taught in schools that had very large percentages of students whose parents were on public assistance. These students also received free meals (breakfast and lunch) at school. I’m sure it won’t amaze you to know how much food was wasted by many students every day because it was free. That’s another tragedy. While some students really benefit from these free resources, too many take advantage of it, don’t care, then have the nerve to develop the “I deserve it” mentality.

When you teach at a school with high percentages of low-to-no-income families, there are other issues besides hunger that teachers and para-professionals wind up dealing with in the course of the day. The one kid I described above is too often the norm. Kids come to school hungry, their parents are sleeping in (or not around), the kids wear the same clothes they’ve been wearing all week (or all month), they don’t smell good (and other kids make fun of them because of it), and in general, they’re simply not mentally prepared to take on another day of “learning.” They simply can’t (or won’t) focus and because they’re not interested and bored, they use the day to see what “fun” they can create for themselves.

With this in mind, what is a school to do? Fortunately for the rest of us, California has the answer. Why, it’s transcendental meditation (TM) of course! Gee, who would have thought?

One school district out in the California ‘burbs has 15-minute breaks throughout the day and uses meditation techniques to help kids “unstress” themselves so that they’ll get along better with other students and teachers and be willing to knuckle down and work to learn. “Beginning in 2007, SF Unified partnered with the David Lynch Foundation to incorporate transcendental meditation lessons as a stress reduction tool. Participating schools implement twice-daily ‘quiet time’ periods to the morning and afternoon schedule. These 15-minute breaks are held in all classrooms and are overseen by all teachers.”

This form of transcendental meditation is ballyhood as being “non-religous” and can help reduce “chronic stress” in students by helping them focus on their breathing. Interestingly enough, “Cardiologist John Kennedy has developed ‘The 15 Minute Heart Cure‘ — a set of breathing techniques you can do anytime, anywhere. It requires no drugs, no surgery and his techniques give you the ability to reduce your blood pressure using brain power alone.” Wow, we are little gods with our own inner deity, aren’t we?

Anyone who knows anything about TM knows that it is religious in nature. It has deep roots in Eastern Mysticism and the religions associated with them.

TM is not simply done to learn to breathe slower (or in a controlled fashion) so that you can reduce your blood pressure or stress. Ultimately, done “correctly,” TM creates an altered state where the practitioner learns to empty his/her mind. You think it’s easy to literally empty your mind? Try it. It’s not. It is a learned process that can take weeks, months, or even years to do. When the mind becomes emptied, like any void or vacuum, it will fill with something else. That “something else” comes from the spiritual realm and because people learn to have empty minds, they do not control what comes in to fill that newly created void.

Of course, this California school says that truancy has been lowered because of TM. Stress-related problems have also been reduced, including behavioral referrals and even suspensions…so they say. Meanwhile, these same kids are giving themselves over to powers that they do not understand and cannot control.

Is it okay to simply meditate, to think about God’s Word? Absolutely, and we should do that. Is it all right if I spend a few minutes each day controlling my breathing? Definitely. One of the best ways of doing that is with exercise done properly, including weight training.

There is nothing in Scripture that tells us to empty our minds. We are to “be still,” but that is not the same thing as “being empty.” Paul tells us to actively think about those things which are good and honorable.

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you,” (Philippians 4:8-9).

TM teaches people to empty their minds. In doing so, they unknowingly give themselves over to entities that are just waiting to take control. Whether these schools or the David Lynch Foundation are willing to admit it, they are playing with fire of a very “religious” nature. It’s not something I would want my kids involved in.

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